From a rookie boy group struggling to have a spot in broadcasts and variety shows, to international superstars selling millions of copies of their albums worldwide, BTS (also known as Beyond the Scene) captured the world’s attention with their heart wrenching struggles to achieve their goals and dreams. But this was not what captivated the people all over the world, it was their lyrical music about their vulnerability and mental struggles with mesmerizing music videos that made fans (and non-fans) relate to them. They are passionate, energetic, individuals with brilliant ideas that talk about social issues, and they want their listeners to understand and be aware of their surroundings. This is where it all began.
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The group established under the small agency called Big Hit Entertainment. RM, the first member and the official leader, met the CEO, Bang Si-Hyuk, back in 2010. He was scouted while being an underground rapper and is well known for his English. “Which [I] taught [myself] by watching all the seasons of Friends,” he tells TIME.
Later came Suga, who auditioned as a rapper for the group. Not to mention, started as an underground rapper as well when the stage name “Gloss”. According to TIMES, “Suga got his current moniker from early years spent playing basketball. (It’s an abbreviation for “shooting guard.”), [and] is known for his rapid-fire rhymes.” The third member became J-Hope who was known as an exceptional dancer of an underground dance group in his hometown, “...Since becoming a part of the boy band, J-Hope expanded his skill set to include rapping and songwriting,” TIME explains. Soon after, Jimin was recruited as a choreographer while he was in high school, and Jin for his unique visuals. TIMES talks about Jin, “The result? He now often goes by the fan-given moniker ‘Worldwide Handsome’”. Finally, Taehyung and Jungkook joined as vocalists for the group. They tell TIME that in months when the group are not doing shows, they look forward to returning to the stage. By 2013, the BTS everyone knows, and loves, was formed.
Five years later, BTS have released roughly half a dozen Korean and Japanese albums, plus multiple collaboration albums, reissues and EPs. “But it wasn’t until 2016 that they really began to take off internationally, with their Wings EP and, later, the “DNA” music video breaking records (TIMES 1)”.
By 2017, BTS became the first K-Pop group to reach milestones in their career and winning the award for Top Social Artist, at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, beating popular celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. They make special guest appearances in the American Music Awards and television talk variety shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show as well as late-night talk shows such as The Tonight show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show with James Corden. They even reached high charts on international music awards in Japan and Canada, achieving much more recognition and popularity than anyone could have imagined from a group outside the West. But let us go back to before all the awards and fame, instead, to the time where they struggled as a rookie group in South Korea.
It is no secret that the seven-member Korean boy group had their personal obstacles, even before they sky-rocketed to international fame. Like many youths, RM, J-Hope, and Jin had parents who did not approve of their dreams or felt like a disappointment to them. They did not have anyone who supported them, thus leaving them to a bleak future. While the other two members— Suga and Taehyung— had to scrape for food and wear shabby hand-me-downs because they did not have enough money to live comfortably, struggling to live in the poor towns they lived in. While Jungkook and Jimin had to break out of their shell to achieve a greater purpose than what they had paved for them by their family members. Nonetheless, they carried through without fail and used their struggles to spread multiple messages into their music.
“Many of their songs contain important messages that address many issues that young people face and how to pursue and get through difficult, challenging times” said Luke Waltham from the Internet news outlet, A Medium Corporation.
They are not afraid to delve into controversial topics, like the divided class in society and mental illnesses that people suffer from, because they know someone must open awareness to what is happening all around. Their 2018 album, “Love Yourself: Tear,” ventures into the dark side to love and life. “We sometimes compare ourselves to others and sometimes get really depressed,” RM tells Entertainment Tonight. “My final goal of my whole life is to love myself.”
Yet, they smile and push through their hardships because they know that they are not alone. ARMYs, the name of their fandom, always show support whenever they can. Whether it be streaming their music videos, buying their albums, spreading their name, or even voting for them on award shows, ARMYs never miss the chance to help BTS achieve goals nobody thought was possible. “...ARMYs do not just form a fandom, rather they form a family that is united under BTS’s values of bringing hope, joy and healing to the world,” continued Luke.
BTS are the epitome of rags to riches, but that does not stop them from staying humble and down to earth. They show that they are human, and they can laugh, cry, have fun, and have moments where they need support. They share thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams to the world—and that is something you do not need to understand Korean to experience through music. BTS changed the music industry in a way where one does not need to learn a language to understand what the song’s message is trying to spread. Afterall, music has no boundaries.